The Upstate Life
The Upstate Life

Monday, May 11, 2009
TUL's Take: Animal Collective @ The Ottobar

Let me first preface by saying that Animal Collective put on the best show I have seen thus far this year. Yes, you read that correct. But first, let's do the rundown on how we were able to not only enjoy a delicious dinner prior to the show but how we were able to get tickets to a venue that houses only 400 people.

You see, Rachel knew how much I adored Merriweather Post Pavilion and decided to get me tickets for their show at the 9:30 Club tonight as an early birthday gift. Unfortunately, I have a final in my class tonight so I was immediately dismayed that I would miss out. Fortunately, Rachel had the brilliant idea of proposing a trade on Craigslist for anyone looking for DC tickets in lieu of ones for the Baltimore show last night. We struck gold late last week and made our way to Charm City yesterday afternoon with tickets in hand.

We decided to have dinner at The Helmand in Mount Vernon for some Afghan after reading some excellent reviews over on Yelp. The food was indeed delicious and the pumpkin appetizer is a must should you ever decide to eat there. Pretty reasonable in terms of cost, too.

We then headed towards The Ottobar and caught some of opener Daniel Higgs' set which was, well, interesting. Turns out he was formerly in Lungfish and is part of the Dischord label.

At around 9:15pm, Animal Collective came onstage amidst the roaring hometown crowd. Given that the small venue was sold-out, there was still a remarkable amount of room where it wasn't to the point of feeling cramped like at RNR Hotel (somehow dreading seeing Phoenix there given how Tapes N Tapes was shoulder-to-shoulder action).

The band kicked things off with a complex rendition of "Chocolate Girl" which segued into our first MPP song of the night (and my personal favorite), "Guys Eyes." The rich harmonies created by Avey Tare and Panda Bear translated incredibly well live and created a rich sonic palette within the walls of the Ottobar.

There were times where it was kind of hard to pay attention to what was going on when the band planted a huge backdrop of MPP's album art onto the wall along with pulsating LED lights giving the pattern a nice psychedelic effect. I couldn't even imagine being on acid watching that.

The best part of the night by far was when the band performed "Daily Routine." Panda Bear's vocals during the closing parts of the song ("Just a sec, in my bed") were phenomenal and brought the crowd to a standstill and created a point in time where you knew you were seeing something special.

Honestly, I wouldn't have cared less if they didn't perform "My Girls" because the entire show up until that point, given some slow periods in between, was exceptional and I can't thank Rachel enough for landing us tickets.

Of course, "My Girls" was ultimately performed and saved for last but it seemed like the band was playing it half-heartedly compared to the rest of the setlist, but honestly, that was fine by me. I got to hear "Fireworks" (with Panda Bear pounding hysterically on the drums) and they even performed a new song entitled "Bleed" which was great as well. These guys put on a hell of a show and it simply amazes me that the wall of sound they created originated from these three guys onstage.

If you're going to the show tonight in DC, you're most likely in for a treat (plus NPR will be broadcasting it for those unable to attend), but for the fortunate few who were inside the Ottobar last night, that show will be hard to top. Setlist (courtesy of Collected Animals) and photos (taken by me) below:

Chocolate Girl
Guys Eyes
Who Could Win a Rabbit
Summertime Clothes
Daily Routine
What Would I Want Sky
Leaf House
Fireworks w/ Lablakely Dress Intro
Lion in a Coma
Brother Sport
Also Frightened
My Girls

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